The Story Behind the Photographs of Stevie Nicks With Veils on the Roof of Her House in Venice Beach, 1981
Stevie Nicks from Fleetwood Mac stands in the ocean breeze with her trademark flowy dress sleeves rippling dramatically over her head. The photographs were taken by Neal Preston on the roof of Stevie’s condo in Venice Beach, CA during a shoot for People Magazine.
According to Preston, the wind was so strong, one of his assistants literally had to hold Stevie down by her boots.
“She was living in Venice, California, at the time and she had a condo on the top floor of a six-story building right on the sand in Venice Beach and we had a great shoot, she couldn’t have been easier. But I still wanted that one last killer photograph and I said almost at the same time as she said: ‘Why don’t we go up on the roof and shoot as the sun is going down?’ I thought it was a fantastic idea.
“She had put on this white outfit with long sleeves of fabric that really caught the wind like a sail on a sailboat. The second I put the camera to my eye the wind starts kicking up. She is posing and the sleeves are going all over the place, and I realize about three frames in that the wind is going to be blowing so hard that one gust and she could be blown right off the side of the building, six stories down, which would have ruined Time Life’s insurance department’s day.
“There was only one thing to do because we were getting great photos and the sun waits for no man and it was going down. So I made an assistant of mine lie on his stomach out of frame and I said ‘You hold on to that white boot — you do not let go.’ And that is what he did. She stayed in one place and we got great pictures. But that is why you don’t see her boots in the pictures. There could be no full-length shot.”
Preston grew up in Queens, New York. He went to Forest Hills High, the same school that spawned The Ramones. He was already photographing bands and set to go to the Philadelphia College of Art when he realized the career he had chosen didn’t need a degree.
“The day was absolutely intoxicating, and the next afternoon a bouquet of flowers arrived at my house with a note thanking me for a ‘magical shoot.’ She’s a friend for life and one of the most creative people I’ve ever met.”